Catering to a minority religion in a country where even the majority religion has seriously fallen from favour in recent years, Christ Church, like St Patrick's, relies heavily on tourism and on the services of voluntary staff to pay for its upkeep (which, according to the cathedral's website, costs €2,500 per day). Dubliners chiefly know it as a place to hear the bells ring out on New Year's Eve (it boasts 'the largest full-circle ringing peal in the world') and for the beautiful choral evensongs (Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6pm, Saturdays at 5pm and Sundays, 3.30pm).
The original Viking cathedral was put up circa 1030, but the existing Anglo-Norman building dates from the 1180s, with many subsequent restorations. Inside, it is handsome rather than spectacular; if any cathedral can be called cosy or compact, this is the one. Like so many other notable church buildings in Ireland, Christ Church suffered from some over-enthusiastic Victorian restoration, but the huge crypt that runs the full length of the cathedral dates from its first stone incarnation in the 1170s and goes some way to representing the medieval character of the place.
Many kings and conquerors worshipped here, from the Norman mercenary Strongbow to the ill-fated James II, and his rival and successor to the throne of England, William of Orange. In 1871, the whiskey-maker Henry Roe funded a restoration so thorough it left him bankrupt, and purists enraged. Keep an eye out for the heart-shaped iron box said to contain the heart of St Laurence O'Toole, and for 'the cat and the rat'. Their mummified remains were (supposedly) found in an organ pipe and were put on display in mid chase, like a single frame from a ghoulish Tex Avery animation; actually, they provide a welcome break from the austerity and pomp that characterise Christ Church.